Pagunsan re-juvic-nated | Asian Tour

Pagunsan re-juvic-nated

Published on June 4, 2021

Former Asian Tour number one Juvic Pagunsan says more “focus” and “mental strength” were the factors behind his popular victory last Sunday in the Gate Way To The Open Mizuno Open – surprisingly, his maiden win in Japan after a decade of trying, and, perhaps even more notably, his first triumph on one of the region’s main Tours since claiming the Pertamina Indonesia President Invitational on the Asian Tour in 2007.

“I had been practicing very hard and trying to really focus on my game,” said the Filipino, whose victory also earned him a berth in this year’s Open Championship field at Royal St George’s, July 15-18.

“I was a little bit worried that I would never win again, but I kept practicing, playing and working on getting mentally stronger, that is why I was able to win again.”

Juvic celebrates his birdie on the 18th hole during the third and final round of the Barclays Singapore Open at the Sentosa Golf Club on November 13, 2011 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Since turning professional 15 years ago the Filipino star has recorded eight runner-up finishes on the Asian Tour and seven on the Japan Golf Tour Organization – an impressive track record, even though it is void of titles.

One of those second placed finishes came in the Barclays Singapore Open in 2011, where he was beaten by Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, aka “Gonzo”, in that famous sudden-death play-off that had to be completed on Monday morning. Although disappointed to lose, Pagunsan was consoled by earning a cheque for US$666,660 – which helped him secure the Asian Tour Order of Merit title.

But at the age of 43 many thought Pagunsan had missed the boat on another victory.

The Filipino – who is also a two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour – is philosophical about it.

“If the tournament is yours, it is yours, but if it is not, it’s not, but if you still keep playing you have a chance to win,” he says.

“It is nearly 11 years in Japan right now and I always came up second but last week I broke that curse and I did it, I finally won.

“Hopefully I can win again, every year, and every tournament I keep positive.”

Juvic poses with the winning trophy at the end of the final round of Pertamina Indonesia President Invitational Golf Tournament at the Damai Indah Golf and Country Club in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, 28 October 2007. AFP PHOTO/Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images)

Remarkably, he marched to victory last weekend carrying his own clubs (partly due to COVID-19 restrictions) as: “I didn’t have a private caddie and I didn’t want to use the push carts.”

It was the third time this year he had carried his bag in Japan, but whereas on the two previous occasions he lugged a full set, this time he felt it best to make his bag lighter and carry 11 clubs (legally you are allowed to carry 14).

He added: “I am getting older and the last two times with 14 clubs were really heavy. I don’t like to use the electric carts, since you have to go all the way around the greens.”

Out went his three, four, six, and eight irons and in came a 19-degree utility club, four wedges and a winners’ cheque for  ¥12,000,000 (US$109,304) – elevating his career earnings in Japan to ¥237,625,768 (US$2,163,489).

As for his trip to the Open he says:

“I have had a lot of experience playing links golf. I actually made the cut the first time I played the Open (he finished tied 72nd in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St Annes). But missed the cut in 2014 (at Royal Liverpool). I will try and draw on those experiences when I play this year.”